A Review of Cranston’s First and Only Brew Pub
Well, they’ve finally done it … the pigs have flown to Cranston for its worst-kept secret: Brutopia. From the first whispers of pigs on the wing perfecting their flying skills to their whirlwind opening, many have been abuzz with the possibility of BBQ and beers all in one place. Many things in this world were made to go together, but none so much as BBQ and beer. Brutopia marked its opening just a few weeks ago as RI’s 5th brewpub and Cranston’s first brew … well, anything. The brainchild of the Sorbo Restaurant group, known for restaurants like Coco Pazzo, The English Cellar Ale House and Succotash, Brutopia seeks to further expand the already exploding RI beer scene.
I went with a friend on a quiet weeknight after the initial opening rush the week before. Fortunately for me there were just a few patches of patrons around and there were plenty of places to sit. Our waiter, Ryan, was quite the jovial fellow. He greeted us at the door and showed us to a table. The interior had lots of weathered looking wood and there were TVs everywhere, about 15 by my count, all broadcasting a sporting event or something of equal interest. A bar in the middle offered taps for the Brutopia beers as well as a few other local favorites like Revival and Narragansett. Right next to the entrance, a floor-to-ceiling window showed the heart of the brewing operation. Ryan noticed my wide eyes on the way in and offered to give us a behind-the-scenes tour.
We walked into the brewing room and were immediately greeted by the five large fermenters, one of which was happily bubbling away with the next batch of Brutopian Bliss, their pilsner offering. Sitting across from the fermenters was the brewing kettle, mash tun and control station all cleaned and waiting to brew up the next batch. A large wooden sliding door protected the entrance to the grain room in the back of the brewery. Behind the fermenters was a lone bright tank where beer goes to clarify and carbonate. I asked how the thirsty masses would be satiated with such a small bright tank. Ryan replied that there were much larger bright tanks in the basement that were hooked directly to the taps at the bar. You don’t get much fresher than that … unless you drink it from the fermenter, which may be frowned upon. The early days of the brewing operation will be headed up by local brew hero Sean Larkin and eventually passed on to those deemed worthy. After all, beer is that important.
We found our way back to the table and scanned the menu for some tasty vittles. The menu offered BBQ favorites like ribs, pulled pork, brisket, smoked chicken, steak and cornbread. There were also burgers, wings and a few seafood dishes. For all of you hot heads out there, there’s plenty of spicy fare on the menu — everything from Angry Sausage to “Ubiquitous Absurdly Hot Wings” and some sauces with a bit of an extra kick. They even have regular old salads for those who aren’t into the meat scene. I went with the brisket dinner that included a side of cornbread and mac and cheese. The brisket was well trimmed, tender and cut easily with a fork. I ordered two sauces that helped augment the already bold flavor of the brisket and brought out some nuances that may not have been noticed before. Since I’m a wimp when it comes to spicy food, I went the Honey BBQ and Eastern Carolina sauces, the two mildest of the bunch. They offered just enough heat to wake your taste buds, but not enough to scorch them. The mac and cheese was tasty and satisfying, but in my opinion, not as good as the LJ’s offering of years past. But that is hardly a reason not to become a brutopian.
Since it was a school night, I only sampled a few beers. The Brutopian Bliss is a pilsner offering that was light and crisp, but didn’t sacrifice body or flavor as certain other pilsners do. The Brutopian Bonfire is a brown ale that was very easy going and offered a hint of brown sugar sweetness at the end. Finally, the Brutopian Dark Marvel arrived just as I was tearing into my plate full of smoked brisket. It is a well balanced stout that brought out the smokiness of my dinner and made me think for a few minutes that I was sitting around a campfire.
Brutopia is located at 505 Atwood Ave. in Cranston — you can’t miss the sign (RI Directions: located where the Sharx bar used to be). Keep in mind that weekends are typically much busier than week days, so if you want to eat your meat nice and slow to avoid the meat sweats, think about going during the week. Prices for most dinners are in the $10 to $30 range, but you don’t need to wear your Sunday go-to-meetin clothes to have a bite and a beer. The kitchen is usually open till 10 for all you late-night grazers.
Mix A Six:
* Newport Storm started construction on a 2,000 sq. ft. expansion to their facility.
* Whalers Brewing Company opened for tours, tastings and growler sales.
* Yeungling is coming to RI! C&C Distributors will get the products in bars and on the shelves starting in June.
* The Craft Brew Races on July 20 combines a 5K and local craft beer festival in the middle of downtown Providence. craftBrewraces.com
* Keep an eye out for Long Live Beer Works as they work on getting licensed.
* RI Brew Bus will be rolling soon, so keep your eyes out.
* Brewery 401 moved into the old Bucket Brewery space and will soon crank out new beers for all to enjoy.